The $396m project will raise the dam by 10 metres, increasing its storage capacity from 3.4 billion cubic metres to 7.3 billion cubic metres. This will compensate for the build-up of silt on the dam’s lakes, which has reduced its capacity by 25 per cent.

The scheme is being financed by the Arab Fund for Economic & Social Development, the Opec Fund for International Development, the Islamic Development Bank, the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development and the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development.

A consortium of Australia’s Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation and France’s Coyne et Bellier has signed an agreement with Sudan’s Dams Implementation Unit to design the project and prepare contract documents.

The dam, which was built in the 1960s is located 520 kilometres southeast of Khartoum. A 280-MW power plant is located at the dam. It supplies almost half of the country’s power.